Family Guy‘s Christine Lakin Steps Into L.A.’s Silence! The Musical

The former sitcom star shares her thoughts on filling Jodie Foster’s shoes, her newest voiceover role, and her first TV crush!

Christine Lakin
Christine Lakin

Christine Lakin is that rare breed: a child actress who has succeeded in the business as an adult. So it’s only fitting that the former Step by Step star is taking on (in her own way) a role made famous by another former child actress, Jodie Foster, by playing FBI agent Clarice Starling in the Los Angeles premiere of Silence! The Musical, the outrageous spoof of The Silence of the Lambs, now at the Hayworth Theatre. TheaterMania recently caught up with Lakin to discuss the show, her newest gig on the hit animated series Family Guy, and who she would most like to see in the Silence! audience.

THEATERMANIA: How did you get involved with the show?

CHRISTINE LAKIN: I was in New York doing workshops of The Break-Up Musical and had heard about the show and was so excited to see it — and then I couldn’t get tickets! But it turned out I knew the stage manager, so I called him and got him to sneak me into the show, and I fell in love with it. It was so hilarious and so spot-on, and I kept thinking this is my niche. So I told him if it was ever going to LA to let me know. And then I got a Facebook message from him about nine months later and he got me an appointment to audition with Christopher Gattelli. I thought I had a good audition, but after there was no word for four days, I thought I didn’t get it.

TM: And now that you have it, what are your thoughts?
CL: I am over the moon, though I do have a little bit of trepidation. It is a large role to fill and I’ve been a huge Jodie Foster fan since I was a kid. Of course, I am doing a ridiculous version of Jodie in the movie, but I’ve been watching the movie to make sure I am mimicking her voice and getting the inflections right, especially Clarice’s West Virginia accent.

TM: What Jodie Foster movies did you see as a kid?
CL: I know I saw Taxi Driver. I think I might have seen Silence of the Lambs when it came out, or at least on VHS. I was so scared, but I didn’t really understand what was going on with Buffalo Bill. Now, I think it’s really scary — but in a different, far more psychological way.

TM: Have you enjoyed the rehearsal process?
CL: Yes, working with Chris has been a dream. He’s so sweet and open. I’ve always created a role, so I’ve never gone into a production this way, and it’s been interesting learning the bones of the show and finding my own way into these scenes. And I love the cast. I can’t say enough good things about Davis Gaines (who plays Hannibal Lecter). We are having so much fun that I think it might be hard for me to be terrified of him on stage.

TM: You’ve done a lot of theater in L.A, especially with The Troubadours. Do you think this show will work here?
CL: LA will definitely get this show; it’s so up their alley. People here are always looking for things that are unique and subversive, and I think the raunchy, ridiculous nature of the show will get a lot of buzz. Plus, it’s such a movie culture that everyone here may have worked on the movie or know someone who did.

TM: Has your work with The Troubadours prepared you for this?
CL: Absolutely. Their process is unlike anything else I’ve ever done. It’s really collaborative and creative, and it gives you confidence. If you’re in a Troubadour show and you screw up a moment on stage, we not only deal with it — we point it out to the audience.

TM: You also do a lot of voiceover work on TV, especially Joyce on Family Guy. How cool is that gig?
CL: It’s so great to be even a small part of such a cool show. I just did Sarah Palin for them; it’s part of the new season. Sometimes, they call me to do random stuff, usually a day or two before they shoot. But one thing I love is that they do table reads like a sitcom, and sometimes I get to fill in for Mila Kunis (who voices Meg). It is the most fun environment.

TM: Other than Jodie Foster, who would you like to see in the audience of Silence! The Musical?
I love Neil Patrick Harris. I’ve always been a big fan of his — he was my first TV crush. And he’s such a big theater supporter that I could see him coming. He wrote this thing for Entertainment Weekly about being a child actor and riding the waves of your career, and I totally agreed with it. And I would love it if Patrick Duffy, who played my dad on Step by Step, came by. I think he would get a huge kick out of it.

TM: And who don’t you want to see out there? Maybe your parents?
CL: My parents are coming around Thanksgiving. At this point, they are so supportive of everything I do and I’ve done enough raunchy things that they’re not shocked. It’s true that my mom loved it when I played Joannie Cunningham in the musical Happy Days, but I think she finally realized I am never going to do Oklahoma!

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Silence! The Musical

Closed: December 9, 2012